The seven ruined towers of Cragmaw Castle stood before the players, the entryway beckoning them onwards. However, the players were apprehensive about simply approaching the structure and opted to try some subtlety. Their previous attempts at stealth didn’t fare well.
*We can all remember the wonderful stealth roll by Asterin with the Orcs at Wyvern Tor.*
Aurelia summoned an illusion of Wendel. *Why Wendel? Who knows?* This illusion she sent directly towards the entryway, only for it to become the target for the various goblins behind the castle walls. The arrows did nothing of course but that didn’t stop the goblins from trying again, so more arrows followed. Aurelia chose to drop the illusion when it reached the limit of her range.
After a brief pause, several goblins exited the entryway to do a small scout around the perimeter of the castle. *Although thwarting a potential ambush, the party did succeed in alerting the entire castle to their presence. *
A frontal assault was clearly not available to the group, so they choose to skirt the north side of the castle and check for another way in. Between some very successful stealth and perception rolls, the two halflings were able to discover an entrance beneath a thick canvas amongst the rubble of the north side of the building. The party had found away in.
Sneaking in through the secret bolthole they discovered that inside of the castle wasn’t much better than the outside, with several internal walls showing signs of partial collapse. Being as stealthy as possible they headed towards the eastern side of the castle and were able to hear a conversation from behind a door. Asterin was able to discern some of the language overhearing the words dwarf and map.
*I couldn’t believe this. It had taken me an incredible amount of time to have the players arrive at this place only for them to skip the contents of the entire castle and arrive directly at the boss room. The very first room they choose to check.*
Checking their equipment, the party burst into the room to see a Drow, King Grol (a large bugbear) and his two pet wolves beside a table, the dwarf was lying on the floor in the nearest corner. With the surprise on their side Asterin immediately dropped a Color Spray, causing damage to the Drow, King Grol and one wolf, and causing all of them to go blind. Merric followed up charging into the thick of it and striking at the bugbear, Wendel joined him positioning himself beside the Drow. Aurelia took a defensive position at the door backing everyone up with range promptly slaying a wolf.
After the surprise round, the party were still on top in terms of initiative and did another round of damage, another wolf dead and King Grol was already at half health.
*It was ridiculous. Anyone who says fighters are not a good class should think again. Merric was hitting multiple times a round for 10+ damage each hit and Wendel opted to burn through a few ki points. The amount of damage dealt in the surprise round was crazy. Plus, my mobs were blinded!!*
This wouldn’t last very long, King Grol despite being blind, was able to deal an impressive amount of damage to Merric but was quickly slain in the following round with the Drow following suit.
*Two rounds… they took them out in two rounds. Sometimes the dice gods are simply not on the DM’s side. Although the players did burn through quite a few of their spells and abilities.*
Upon the Drow’s death, its body morphed into the grey shapeless body of a Doppleganger which took poor Wendel by surprise. The party barely had time to check on the dwarf before two hobgoblins arrived at the door having heard all the noise of the combat.
*It had occurred to me during combat that the castle was still completely full of inhabitants, and the battle wasn’t quiet. These two hobgoblins had been asleep in the room down the hall, and they were intended to arrive at round 4 of combat. But the boss was already dead by this stage. *
This sudden new threat was short lived with Asterin striding forth and unleashing her Tempest cleric powers. Wendel by her side, they took out one hobgoblin.
*Okay this wasn’t working. No hobgoblin is going to charge into a room full of people who had just slain their “king” time for a new tact. *
Realising that he was out of his depth, the remaining hobgoblin ran off down the hall. Aurelia jumped into the hall and let off an eldritch blast, but it just missed him striking a wall instead. The party decided not to chase the hobgoblin down and preferred to get out of the castle quickly. The sounds of running footsteps and slamming doors could be heard as the hobgoblin made their getaway.
The party quickly took stock of the room and checked on the body of the Dwarf. It was Gundren, unconscious and barely alive. Asterin quickly had the dwarf on his feet and the party searched the room for Gundren’s missing map. By the time the party found the bag under the bed, it was time to reveal exactly what the hobgoblin had been up to.
A loud roar came from down the hall in the direction of the hobgoblin’s escape. The party froze. Scratching of claws on stones could be heard coming up the hallway, the loud sounds of a bestial snuffling as whatever horror awaited the party came towards them.
“Block the door!” screamed Wendel and the party immediately slammed the door. The door didn’t look like it could stop much at all, so the party grabbed the room’s furniture and propped up the door as best as they could. The snuffling stopped at the other side of the door and the creature let out a loud roar which reverberated through the room, sending loose dust to shower upon the occupants.
Looking around the room, there appeared to be no way out. The party was trapped! How will the party work their way out of this one, find out next session.